Apricot Cherry Crisp with Pate Brisée Crust. It’s not quite a pie or even a cobbler exactly. It’s sort of in-between. That’s how it is here too. We’re on the cusp-of-summer in Los Angeles. However, unless you know what to look for, you might not know it. Despite the jokes about Southern California having no weather, there are small, unmistakable events that mark the change in each season: the autumnal shift of evening temperatures, the blazing blue skies of winter, the mist-veiled mornings of May gray. Once you’ve lived here long enough you get to know and predict the shifts that signal the annual equinoxes.
There’s another sign in the shift in our seasons and it’s best observed walking the stalls of our Farmers Markets. As the days lengthen, delicate greens give way to brilliant shades of yellow and red as summer’s fruits replace spring’s veggies. I’m not talking about the dog days of summer which bring us endless hordes of drippingly sweet peaches and rainbows of ripe plums. I’m talking about now. Right now. In Los Angeles you know it’s just past spring (but not quite summer) when apricots and cherries show up at the Hollywood Farmers Market. These early stone fruits are two of my favorites. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be a bit like a “kid-in-a-candyshop” when faced with huge piles of glistening, ripe red cherries, and barely blushing, lightly freckled apricots.
While cherries always entice it takes very good apricots to excite. Very good apricots can be elusive, capricious and frustrating. They infuriate as often as they delight – leaving many a shopper wondering why anyone would bother with the cotton-mouthed texture of a none-to-sweet apricot. The problem is good apricots are soft-fleshed and don’t travel well. They need to ripen on the tree to fully develop their nectar. They get bruised and mealy if they’re stored too cold and travel too far. What’s more, their season is brief. When they show up in our Farmers Markets you know they’re local. So I grab a bundle and bring them into the kitchen where even the most mediocre specimens can be transformed with heat and a heap of sugar. That’s not something I’d normally suggest for most fruit.
Of course, a sweet partner can have the same effect as loads of sugar. Maybe it’s just because they share the same season, but apricots and cherries are a classic combination. So as we sit at the brink of summer I’ve decided to bring these natural partners together in a crisp that’s on the cusp of a pie. All they need to succeed together is a little sugar for balance and a little flour for thickening. Well that and enough crust to ensure some savory crunch in every bite. GREG
PS About the name Apricot Cherry Crisp. Some might consider this Pate Brisée-topped fruit dish a rather untraditional crisp. However, the sweet and savory combination of fruit and buttery pastry is classically delicious. Besides, I’m tired of crisps that don’t stay crisp.